A day after it was made official that Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will not contest from Varanasi parliamentary constituency, senior party leader Sam Pitroda on Friday claimed that she took the decision herself.
“It (not contesting from Varanasi) was Priyanka ji's decision, she has other responsibilities. She thought rather than concentrating on one seat she should focus on the job she has at hand. So, that decision was her and she decided it,” Pitroda was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Sam Pitroda, Indian Overseas Congress Chief: It (not contesting from Varanasi) was Priyanka ji's decision, she has other responsibilities. She thought rather than concentrating on one seat she should focus on the job she has at hand. So, that decision was her and she decided it. pic.twitter.com/65hTQurplT— ANI (@ANI) April 26, 2019
Earlier on Thursday, the Congress fielded Ajay Rai from Varanasi to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ending speculation on a possible blockbuster electoral duel between Vadra and the PM in the temple town of Uttar Pradesh.
The 'will she, won't she' suspense ended following nomination of Rai, who unsuccessfully contested against PM Modi in last general elections and finished third in the contest after the BJP leader and Aam Aadmi Party's Arvind Kejriwal.
Speculation on Priyanka Gandhi making her electoral debut from Varanasi had been rife for the past few weeks and was fuelled after Congress president Rahul Gandhi, to a question on whether he planned to field his sister against PM Modi, said last week, "I will leave you in suspense. Suspense is not always a bad thing."
Priyanka Gandhi herself had added to the buzz by saying on Tuesday that she would abide by her party's decision on the matter.
Meanwhile, the SP-BSP grand alliance has declared Shalini Yadav, who joined the Samajwadi Party on Monday evening, as their candidate from Varanasi.
After years of working in Congress backrooms, Priyanka Gandhi joined full-time politics in February as in-charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, hoping to change the party's fortunes in the ongoing Lok Sabha election.
Varanasi constituency will go to the polls in the last phase on May 19. Prime Minister Modi has filed his nomination papers for the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat today. BJP chief Amit Shah along with senior BJP and NDA leaders, including JD (U) president Nitish Kumar, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and other were present with him.
In 2014, Modi won the seat by a margin of over three lakh votes against Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal. While Modi got over 5,81,000 votes, Rai managed about 75,000 votes.